Special Report: Integrity Commissioner

Ferguson Coleman Shove Partial Surveillance Video Released

The first 15 seconds of a video of Ancaster Councillor Lloyd Ferguson shoving Joey Coleman has been released.

By Ryan McGreal
Published November 23, 2015

This article has been updated.

A surveillance video of a February 26, 2014 altercation between Ancaster Councillor Lloyd Ferguson and independent journalist Joey Coleman was released this afternoon after an appeal to the Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner's office to withhold the video was withdrawn.

You can watch the video here:

The video runs for only 15 seconds and has no audio. It starts with City Communications Manager Mike Kirkopoulos and former Ward 9 Councillor Brad Clark standing together with Ferguson standing about six feet away with someone just starting to walk away from him toward the door at the bottom left of the screen.

Ferguson turns and walks over to Kirkopoulos and Clark as Coleman is walking into the lobby.

Coleman walks up to the group, and immediately Ferguson turns around to his left, leans forward, grabs Coleman's left shoulder with his right hand and pushes him backwards. Coleman's foot slides from the force of the push.

Ferguson starts to move away, and then swings back around and points his finger twice in Coleman's face before the video ends with Ward 2 Councillor Jason Farr walking toward the group.

Coleman notes in a statement posted today on The Public Record that this is only a partial video that misses much of what followed from the initial altercation.

The video shows the beginning of the incident, but ends during the middle of the altercation. As the video ends, Councillor Ferguson is approaching Coleman a second time and Councillor Farr is moving to intervene.

The video does not show Ferguson's second physical grab, Farr's intervention, or Ferguson being removed by other Councillors. Despite there being numerous cameras in the foyer, the City did not preserve video from any of the other cameras.

The day after the incident, Councillor Brad Clark confirmed there were two pushes and a second part to the confrontation.

The video was released with a letter from Lisa Barroso, the Manager of Records and Freedom of Information for the City. Following is the text of the letter:

November 23, 2015

Dear Joey Coleman,

Re: Freedom of Information Request #15-037

This is further to my letter dated June 29, 2015.

Today the City's Freedom of Information Office received written confirmation from the Information & Privacy Commissioner's office that the appeal regarding the above noted request has been withdrawn.

As there is no longer an appeal of the City's decision to release the responsive record, please be advised that a copy of the record (video) is attached.

Regards,

Lisa Barroso,

Manager, Records and Freedom of Information


Update: Councillor Ferguson has issued a news release [PDF] following the release of the partial surveillance video. The news release includes the following:

“The whole incident took approximately five seconds...[sic] five seconds,” Ferguson said, providing a play-by-play commentary of the incident. “You will see for yourself that Mr. Coleman comes up behind me, trying to listen to a private conversation I was having with a staff member. You will see me spot him, point to him to step back, but he comes closer, so I take him by the arm and step him back about four feet. I then walked from the building – nobody ‘dragged me’ out of City Hall.”

The news release makes no mention of what happens after the end of the released video.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

21 Comments

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By MichaelHealey (registered) - website | Posted November 23, 2015 at 14:36:43

When one question gets answered in this situation, the answer stimulates more questions. What happened after the video we see ends? Why was the rest of the video not retained? Who made these decisions? Is this the full extent of what Base viewed on formed the basis of his report, along with interview of councillor Ferguson?

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By fedup (anonymous) | Posted November 23, 2015 at 14:49:42

Damn this city, even when they (finally) do the right thing they manage to do it wrong.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 23, 2015 at 16:02:22

Councillor Clark described two pushes. Which means, if he's telling the truth, then the second push has been left out of the video.

Now, I'm really hesitent to put on a tinfoil hat. I hate to be that guy. But seriously, this looks like it's meant to be deliberately misleading. I mean, you listen the Canadaland podcast and then you watch this and it looks like Coleman is completely full of crap.

This video utterly destroys Joey Coleman's credibility. I mean, the shove itself doesn't look as bad as Coleman described, and the follow-through he described isn't there at all.

But councillor Clark verifies the follow through. The day after the event, he described a second push. So, given that he has no reason to lie, we assume that's true.

So that means somebody going through the video records saw that second push and said "no, I'm not going to preserve that".

Somebody had to choose to cut the video just before the second part. That doesn't happen by accident.

And considering how the video makes Coleman look, what possible reason could they have besides to destroy Coleman's reputation and vindicate councillor Ferguson?

I mean, there are basically two possibilities:

1) Councillor Brad Clark (and Coleman, of course) lied about the second push.

2) City staff eliminated the video of the rest of the altercation to hurt Coleman and protect Ferguson.

...

this situation is not improving.

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By Don Moroony (anonymous) | Posted November 23, 2015 at 16:29:18 in reply to Comment 115009

Or, there's a third possibility, izeholeh, which is that Coleman et al., has a false memory of what took place (e.g. confused it with some other incident, rather than lying).

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By Other options (anonymous) | Posted November 23, 2015 at 16:29:07 in reply to Comment 115009

There are other possibilities. Memories are notoriously frail. It is simply possible that Coleman and Clark are wrong. They may remember things a certain way that does not appear to be correct. That does not mean they are lying. they are just wrong.

There appears to be a secondary movement - just no contact.

Based on this video, the whole issue is a non-issue.

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By MichaelHealey (registered) - website | Posted November 23, 2015 at 20:27:39 in reply to Comment 115010

I could accept that, if the video played on, there was no other contact and I saw them walking their separate ways - therein lies the problem - where's the rest of the video? What I see is Ferguson clearly moving in the direction of Coleman right at the end of the video. I would like to see what happens next. For me this is not about Councillor Ferguson or Joey Coleman, it is about transparency, fairness and credibility.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 23, 2015 at 17:13:54 in reply to Comment 115010

Yes, but Clark's account of the events was published in the spec the very next day. Memory is frail, but the very next day?

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By notlloyd (registered) - website | Posted November 23, 2015 at 19:31:03 in reply to Comment 115016

I just went to a seminar about this last week and it interests me that you ask this question.

Eyewitness testimony, even by the victim, is among the most unreliable evidence in a court case. You can start your research here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eyewitness...

It is too large an area to enumerate all the issues here. Time is not the issue although it may be an issue. There are a myriad of other issues that challenge our abilities to recollect accurately. (Think of lineups done immediately after the crime as one example)

Remember My Cousin Vinny. There are three scenes that you may recall. The Magic Grits; The dirty window and the lady with the pop bottle glasses that point out some of these issues quite nicely.

People often believe they saw something quite different than what actually happened. No surprise there.

Comment edited by notlloyd on 2015-11-23 20:45:29

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By MichaelHealey (registered) - website | Posted November 23, 2015 at 20:29:43 in reply to Comment 115020

Agreed - that is why it would be so useful to have a complete video, showing the two moving away separately. The editing of the video is either incompetence or willful deceit.

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted November 23, 2015 at 16:33:54 in reply to Comment 115010

What does Jason Farr have to say?

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 23, 2015 at 17:19:16 in reply to Comment 115012

Based on the fact that Farr has to get things done in council? I'm betting he'll just keep his mouth shut.

Farr needs to get along with Ferguson and mayor Eisenberger more than he needs Joey Coleman.

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By mayornot (registered) | Posted November 23, 2015 at 16:40:05

The 'first push' looks like a completely considered and deliberate, angry act--even without the now witnessed but 'missing' second one. No city employee, no elected official, should with impunity--or close--'get away' with this--even if le Ferguson felt Joey was 'invading' Fergsn's 'space'. Stand too close to Dufferin's cement man and get blasted--cement shoes, maybe? I'm pleased that Joey has made this important clip available. As for Dreschel...compare Dreckels comment on the Spec's P 1 today with the inside part of his column, or online, early compared with late in the column. Tried to post this anonmsly, mcgreal. Why spam? your space invaded?

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By fmurray (registered) | Posted November 23, 2015 at 19:30:02

This whole episode has been mishandled from the start.

Is there no possibility of the Ombudsman doing a review of the mishandling of evidence by City staff, as well as the obstruction of justice that is becoming so glaringly obvious that it's just gross?

Do they think this will settle the situation? It just opens up more questions.

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By RobF (registered) | Posted November 23, 2015 at 20:36:00

Problem now is one of confidence. The situation has been poorly handled from a process point of view from the beginning. The shove or push was inexcusable, but it is becoming secondary to the trail of inaction, missteps, faulty process, and general distrust that it has created.

There is now a perception among some of us that City Hall plays by a different set of rules than the rest of us. And that doesn't speak to the fact that Joey is being obstructed from carrying on his work.

The story is about that too. Instead, we are not seeing the raw-video of the whole incident and we are being steered toward a discussion about how much of a push or shove it was. Call it a diversion or smokescreen or whatever you want. But this doesn't clear the stink.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 24, 2015 at 06:26:55

In his brilliant book The End Of Education, the late media critic Neil Postman wrote, "Power means to be able to define and to make it stick."

City Hall's latest exercise of power is an infuriating case in point. By deciding what video footage to keep and what to discard, our city administrators have exercised the power to define what constitutes official reality.

Their exercise of that power serves unquestionably to protect one of their own while simultaneously undermining the legitimacy of the independent journalist who has already been victimized by the original assault and then victimized again at every subsequent step in this long-running debacle.

This is a very sad day for democracy in Hamilton.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2015-11-24 07:27:25

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By bobby2 (registered) | Posted November 24, 2015 at 07:30:55

After watching the video it's obvious an assault occurred regardless of any alleged missing video! Even worse, Fergy is someone of authority being a Councillor against a none power independent Journalist. What if the opposite occurred, Joey pushed Fergy? I submit Joey would have been criminally charged, barred forever from City Hall. You can sugar coat, twist the event backwards or forwards, the end result remains the same, bullying by an all powerful politician that goes far beyond a simple push!

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted November 24, 2015 at 11:22:06

2 interesting Facebook posts need to be considered.

First this from Joey Coleman, "Metadata from video @cityofhamilton provided shows edited in Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2014 on June 19th 2015"

https://www.facebook.com/JoeyColeman.ca/...

Then from Eric Gillis, the laws around releasing an altered video related to a Freedom of Information Act request change on Jan. 1 2016.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=...

Related?

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 24, 2015 at 13:17:05 in reply to Comment 115032

For all we know, that alteration made on June 19th could be the little zooming that they did in the video. Or just opening the file and clicking "save".

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By fedup (anonymous) | Posted November 24, 2015 at 13:39:44 in reply to Comment 115035

Sure and normally I'd agree with you but do YOU think this city's conduct so far makes you want to give them the benefit of the doubt?

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By Willie (anonymous) | Posted November 24, 2015 at 12:27:27

yup....this City is a mess....
another waste of time, money and thought...once again an example of 'kids' in the playground atmosphere that continually dominates, our municipal "politics'....

who cares, if the entitled one...got what maybe a few others would love to have done...

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By Viv (anonymous) | Posted November 25, 2015 at 08:59:00

Does anyone know who the gentleman was that was speaking to Ferguson at the beginning of the tape? He re-enters the lobby at about the same time as the video stops and appears to have had a clear view of the continued events. Has anyone interviewed him for his account?

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